October 2017—Our 45th Anniversary!
At a recent party, Kermit showed up with a goody bag of aged wines pulled from his cellar. Thirsty guests gathered round as corks began to pop, while outstretched arms holding empty glasses rapidly inundated the new focus of attention.
Amid a stellar lineup of old treasures from the cellar, the standout wine of the night was, by general consensus, a 1998 Vacqueyras “Lopy” from Sang des Cailloux. An elegant beast laden with notes of leather, smoke, Provençal herbs, and game, the bottle was rapidly drained. Most fascinating was the texture–smooth and rounded yet dense and weighty, not unlike the galets roulés stones that cover the surface of the vineyard.
“Lopy” represents the domaine’s oldest vines of Grenache and Syrah, and the 2014 boasts a similar balance to that outstanding 1998. Today it is thick, chewy, and almost bloody, loaded with ripe black cherry and spicy garrigue. Years from now, I imagine it, too, will display the stunning complexity of the 1998, able to stand tall among a lineup of old Bandol and Châteauneuf.
|Blend:||75% Grenache, 25% Syrah|
|Producer:||Domaine le Sang des Cailloux|
|Vineyard:||55 to 65 years, 4 ha|
|Soil:||Clay, Limestone, scattered with galets roulés|
|Aging:||Parcels are aged separately in 450-L barrels|
In 1974, Serge Férigoule left winemaking school with a longing to return to the vineyards. He went to work for Monsieur Ricard’s family in 1979 to oversee the vineyards. Without a successor, Ricard decided to gamble by partnering with Serge. In 1990, after Ricard’s retirement, Serge launched Le Sang des Cailloux. Vacqueyras had been awarded an A.O.C. that same year, a timely twist of fate that helped Serge’s wines become as celebrated as they deserve. All of Serge’s seventeen hectares rest on the Plateau des Garrigues, where red clay, limestone, and the galets roulés impart a terrific intensity and depth to the wines.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch